World Superbike: Italy’s Year Via Biaggi?

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World SBK

The 2010 WSBK Championship has come down to the final two rounds. The 13-race series has only the Italian round at Imola, and the final round at France’s Magny Cours.

Leading the charge this season with an impressive display of motorcycle riding has been the Roman Emperor, Max Biaggi, riding the formidable Aprilia RSV4.

Heading into the penultimate round this weekend in his native Italy, Biaggi has a relatively healthy points lead of 397 over runner-up, British rider Leon Haslam, with 339.

With two double-header rounds remaining (four individual races which award 25 points each for a win) there are one hundred points up for grabs. With the wholly unpredictable nature of racing there is still a mathematical possibility of Haslam challenging for the title.

That said, there is equal possibility of Biaggi sewing up the championship this weekend on Italian soil. It’s all up to the strange temperament of fate.

However, in studying the case at hand, something interesting emerged about the history of the WSBK Championship; an Italian has never won. Maybe it’s because of the Italian’s strong presence in MotoGP that I had assumed an Italian had laid claim to the title in the past.

Not the case. In fact, in the 22-year history of the series only one non-native English speaking rider has held the title. That was Frenchman Raymond Roche in 1990.

Since its inception in 1988, the WSBK Championship-with the exception of Roche’s aforementioned win-has been won by a host of Australian, British, and American riders.

Over the years America has brought the title home nine times (most recently with Ben Spies’ sensational rookie season in 2009). The Brits have enjoyed seven title trophies. The Aussies have earned it five times. And the French once.

Given these stats one has to wonder, if Biaggi, an Italian, riding the Italian Aprilia, with its Italian title sponsor Alitalia, were to pull off the hat trick and earn enough points this weekend in Italy to secure the title with one race to go, imagine the hysteria that is going to consume the Imola event.

The Italians are passionate about their racing, passionate about their racers, and passionate about their motorcycles. Pour all that home pride energy into a famous race circuit with the potential of securing the country’s first WSBK title and you’ve got a recipe for celebration unlike anything that has been seen in World Superbike.

But, it is racing after all. Only time and the elements can determine what the outcome will be. Rest assured, there is a Brit and an Italian that are going to be doing everything in their power to summon up the rides of their lives this weekend. One: to keep his title lead in tact. The other: to defy the odds and upset history. It all unfolds this weekend in Italy.

SPEED TV will broadcasts both races of the penultimate round of World Superbike at Imola at 4 and 5 p.m. (EST) Sunday, Sept. 26.

World Superbike Championship Winners:

  • 2009 – Ben Spies, Yamaha
  • 2008 – Troy Bayliss, Ducati
  • 2007 – James Toseland, Honda
  • 2006 – Troy Bayliss, Ducati
  • 2005 – Troy Corser, Suzuki
  • 2004 – James Toseland, Ducati
  • 2003 – Neil Hodgson, Ducati
  • 2002 – Colin Edwards, Honda
  • 2001 – Troy Bayliss, Ducati
  • 2000 – Colin Edwards, Honda
  • 1999 – Carl Fogarty, Ducati
  • 1998 – Carl Fogarty, Ducati
  • 1997 – John Kocinski, Honda
  • 1996 – Troy Corser, Ducati
  • 1995 – Carl Fogarty, Ducati
  • 1994 – Carl Fogarty, Ducati
  • 1993 – Scott Russell, Kawasaki
  • 1992 – Doug Polen, Ducati
  • 1991 – Doug Polen, Ducati
  • 1990 – Raymond Roche, Ducati
  • 1989 – Fred Merkel, Honda
  • 1988 – Fred Merkel, Honda

World Superbike Manufacturer Winners:

  • 2009 – Ducati
  • 2008 – Ducati
  • 2007 – Yamaha
  • 2006 – Ducati
  • 2005 – Suzuki
  • 2004 – Ducati
  • 2003 – Ducati
  • 2002 – Ducati
  • 2001 – Ducati
  • 2000 – Ducati
  • 1999 – Ducati
  • 1998 – Ducati
  • 1997 – Honda
  • 1996 – Ducati
  • 1995 – Ducati
  • 1994 -Ducati
  • 1993- Ducati
  • 1992 – Ducati
  • 1991 – Ducati
  • 1990 – Honda
  • 1989 – Honda
  • 1988 – Honda